Dead Sexy by Lulu M Sylvian
Published by Griffyn Ink on August 13, 2019
Genres: Romance, Paranormal, Fantasy
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Hollywood has-been hunk finds a talented illustrator to write him into the perfect life he didn’t have. Life doesn’t give you do-overs, neither does the afterlife.
Believe in love after life.
Medical illustrator Gillian Denver has a unique talent, and it’s not her ability to depict the systems of the body accurately and artistically. She can talk to spirits, only she doesn’t realize it.
Peter Keith, a one-time TV sitcom star whose career dissolved from A-lister hunk, to out of shape, straight-to-cable-movie D-lister has a problem. Peter regrets decisions he made in his life, and would like a do-over. He convinces Gillian to help him. One little problem, Peter is dead.
Thinking it’s her over active imagination causing her reoccurring dreams about Peter to spill into daylight hours, Gillian finds herself talking to him while she works. Together they begin to recreate Peter’s life by writing a book the way he wishes things had worked out. Gillian is not fully convinced that Peter is anything more than something she made up, a glorified imaginary friend, a new muse.
Gillian’s feelings for Peter complicate her relationships with the living. She is afraid the love she has for Peter will never be enough because she cannot give him what he really needs, a resolution to the life he wasn’t ready to leave.
My Review of Dead Sexy
To be honest, I have never read a paranormal romance that involved the hero being a ghost, so the premise of the story was particularly new to me. Thankfully, I love being pleasantly surprised and definitely enjoy reading novels that are out of the “norm” for me. Dead Sexy opened my eyes to the fact that not only do I find werewolves, vampires, fae, and any other mystical beings thrilling, but apparently, I find ghosts to be just as exciting! Even if the ghost is a one-time sitcom star whose failed career ended up with him slipping away into the afterlife…
In steps Gillian Denver, a medical illustrator with a self-proclaimed over active imagination. Gillian is spunky, curious, and amusing. If I were in her shoes, I would also struggle with the idea that the man I’m seeing in my dreams and during the daylight hours is anything but real. But hey, if they looked like Peter, and did the things Peter did in her dreams; well…I wouldn’t complain too much. Peter’s character developed beautifully throughout the story. We saw a man who fell from his lofty position, lost his aspirations, succumbed to his depression (the first novel I read where the hero actually perished from an opioid overdose), and then began putting the pieces of his life back together in the afterlife with help from Gillian.
Without mentioning any spoilers- despite the somber outlook for their burgeoning relationship (I’m sure you’re wondering how this relationship is able to progress with one of the main characters being dead), the story DOES have a happily ever after- oh! And a ghost cat. I will definitely be reading the next book in this series by Lulu!
Dead Sexy was fun, creative, intense, and surprising! A MUST read! Four stars!
Interview with Author LuLu Sylvian
Hi Lulu and thanks for taking the time to do this interview with me! Let’s jump right into it.
Awesome! (rubs hands together like a maniacal mad scientist). I’m excited to answer your questions!
Your next Paranormal Romance is set to release Aug 2019 after having pumped out the prior series (Wolves of Wet Waterfalls) in April, May, and June of 2019 –(Amazing!)– What do you attribute your productivity level to?
There are so many factors involved that make it look like I’m a faster writer than I really am.
Dead Sexy was already written and waiting in the wings when I sat down with my publisher last summer to discuss what I wanted to release this year. I have a bit of a back catalog waiting for the right time to be published.
Wolves of Wet Waterfalls got in my head and got very noisy, so I had to get it out of my head, just so I could focus on other things. After that happened we noticed a gap between releases in the spring, and decided to push Wolves through.
I’m already working on next year’s releases and working toward my goal of writing a full year ahead of schedule.
Being organized is a big factor. Noisy characters that demand my time is another factor—I’m definitely one of those writers who transcribes the antics of some of my characters. Also, scheduling writing time is huge. Butt in chair, words on paper (or keyboard) are the only way it’s going to happen. Writing (word count) challenges and writing sprints help to keep me motivated.
Please tell us a little about your upcoming novel Dead Sexy.
Dead Sexy is about a woman (Gillian) who doesn’t fully realize she can talk to ghosts, so when the ghost of a recently dead celebrity befriends her, she’s not fully convinced he is anything other than her overactive imagination.
Peter Keith was another victim of an opioid overdose. He had been a hot commodity as a late teen/young adult in Hollywood, but he never was able to maintain that constant level of popularity. At the time of his death, his career had been a series of straight-to-cable mock-buster monster movies and he felt he had let his fans down. He did not feel appreciated.
Together they decide to collaborate on a retelling of Peter’s life, creating in fiction, the life he wished he’d had. Things get complicated when Gillian falls for him. And it turns out Peter can manipulate the dream plain, so things get interesting.
In the end (I promise no spoilers) Gillian finds her own voice, and her talents surpass what she had ever expected. And there is a fun surprise at the end. Of course, as a romance, it definitely has a Happily Ever After.
How did the idea of Dead Sexy form?
Is it fair to say I’m not even sure anymore? I think it all started with a dream and my own overactive imagination. At some point, Gil moved into my head. I do know I was writing this in the late spring because my kids had planted a salsa garden and we were eating a lot of homemade salsa, and hummus. So those foods definitely made it into the story.
In Dead Sexy, the paranormal factor doesn’t come from vampires, fur-covered beasts, or demons, but ghosts. Why ghosts? Are you spiritual in any way?
Yeah, Peter is a ghost. That was how the character and the story formed. It’s not in a magical world, it takes place in the here and now. How do we know that the people talking to us in dreams really aren’t ghosts? That’s probably where some of the basis for the story came from, asking those kinds of questions.
Am I spiritual? This question could go all kinds of directions. I’m going to take it to mean if I believe in ghosts. There are all kinds of things we cannot explain. I believe there is some form of residual energy that some people/animals leave behind. In Dead Sexy Gil has a ghost cat. I know lots of people who have ghost cats or have seen ghost cats. So why not things bigger than cats?
What made you decide to get into Paranormal Romance writing?
I love reading paranormal romance, and urban fantasy. I always thought of myself as a vampire fan (that’s going back to Anne Rice’s Interview with a Vampire, and The Vampire Lestat). An opportunity to join a paranormal book club came up and I was all in. I wasn’t writing back then, I hadn’t even thought about writing at that point. But I loved the stories, the preternatural powers, the psychic connections, all of that. I discovered that I’m more of a werewolf girl. When I started writing it seemed natural that’s were my ideas would gravitate. I’ve written a few contemporary stories, but thematically I’m drawn towards shifters and other powers.
Do you listen to music while you write? If so, what genre and artists?
Different books get different soundtracks. I wrote a burlesque holiday story, Unwrapped, and the soundtrack for that was all KPop, lots of Black Pink and BTS. The funny thing was when I started writing it, I wanted to listen to the music the dancers were performing to. Small problem, the second I put on Lady Marmalade, or Whatever Lola Wants, the story just stopped. It was as if the characters were all, “Yeah yeah yeah, we get it, we know that music, now give us something fun.” It took some trial and error before I landed on a KPop playlist, but as soon as I did, the story just flowed.
Wolves of Wet Waterfalls happened with a lot of the Latin Workout station on Pandora, and a lot of KPop (also a Pandora station).
Sapphire Smyth & The Shadow Five (Part 1)
I always ask about fun facts in my interviews, What are two random and interesting facts about you?
This question is my nemesis! I think of myself as being perfectly normal, and therefore nothing is particularly interesting. But that’s because I live in my brain all day. I love finding these things out about other people because I don’t live in their brains. So, being aware that you all aren’t in my head, things that might be interesting…
I can wiggle my ears. Okay, that might just be weird… I went to art school in Oakland and San Francisco (split campus), my first career was in Graphic Design and I’ve won design awards.
I cannot hula hoop. I’ve tried, I’ve taken classes. I think the only work out I got from a 6-week hula hoop class was laughing constantly for 45 minutes and having to bend over and pick up the hula hoop every 5 seconds during class. I would love to be able to hula hoop, it looks like so much fun. I really want one of those LED multi-colored hoops, but won’t allow myself to get one until I can successfully hoop.
I don’t drink coffee, and Chupa Chups are the best lollipops ever.
Who are some of your favorite fellow Paranormal Romance authors?
I’m definitely a fan of some of the big ones: Sherrilyn Kenyon, Laurell K Hamilton, Kerrelin Sparks, Molly Harper, Patricia Briggs… the list could go on and on.
What are you currently working on now? What’s coming up next from you?
I’m working on next year’s releases. Currently, I’m writing Fallen Star, which will be the third book in the Second Endings series. Book one is Dead Sexy, book two is Bright Phantoms (releases in October), Fallen Star is three (January 2020), and there is a fourth one planned as well. The books are loosely related, so Gil and Peter make an appearance in the second book, but it’s not their story. You meet the hero for Bright Phantoms in Dead Sexy. All four books deal with ghosts, possession, or reincarnation in one form or another.
After Fallen Star I go back to my shifter world for the Legatum/Legacy series. Redemption will be the sixth book for that series, and it’s all vampires and wolf-shifters with a heavy dose of suspense.
I’ve always wanted to become a romance author someday, but life always seems to get in the way (demanding day job, family, etc.) – How did you successfully start writing and selling books?
The job and kid situations were removed from the equation, and that’s how I actually started writing.
I never thought I would be a writer until the stories in my head demanded to get out. For several years I started getting these ideas and movies in my head. I was not a writer, I had no idea that I was going to be a writer, but I didn’t know what to do with these characters and situations.
I had to write a massive thesis-type paper, and (at the time I thought it was huge, turns out it was only about 15,000 words) I thought if I can do that maybe I can write a book. But not much happened. Fast forward five or six years and one summer my day job (which is seasonal) didn’t need me, and I was at loose ends. I had time, my kids were away traveling with their grandparents, so I decided to see if it was possible for me to dump one of these ideas I had onto paper. I gave myself a month to see what happened.
I had always thought that getting a story out would be hard. All those words, all that plot. I discovered if I had the pictures/movies in my head, all I needed to do was write it down. This does not mean that I crafted a good story, it means I managed to write a complete novel-length manuscript in six weeks.
That year I did NaNoWriMo in November and banged out most of another full-length book (NaNo is a huge self-challenge to write 50,000 words in a month. I needed 1667 words a day—I could do that.) With NaNo I found connections and information, and learned about getting something called a Beta reader (they sort of test-run your story for you). Eventually, someone told me about Romance Writers of America, and I joined my local chapter.
I started taking writer-craft workshops, and actually learning about how to craft a story. I took a series of creative writing classes online. I wrote more books, and I learned what I needed to go back and clean up on the books I had already written.
My focus shifted from other hobbies to writing. As I learned about becoming a writer I started sending out queries, and approaching publication from a more traditional standpoint. The more I learned about self-publishing, I decided I would still try for the traditional route, but I would also start self-publishing. Being a “hybrid” author was the game plan.
Then one day one of my published RWA friends asked if she could read one of my stories. I was definitely intimidated, so I made sure to give her the one manuscript I had cleaned up the most—at this point in time, I was just dumping the stories out of my head and onto the computer, not really bothering with editing or revising, just trying to get the ideas out of my brain as fast as I could.
The next thing I know she’s telling me her publisher is going to call me! Yikes. Apparently, she liked it enough to share with her publisher. Something I never would have asked. (I’m still awed by the course of events that ended up with me being published.) A few conversations later, and I had a publishing contract with a small press.
They released my first book, a collection of male stripper short stories, The Twelve Strippers of Christmas six months later.
What’s the best advice you can give to an aspiring writer?
My best advice is to write. Butt in chair, words on paper or keyboard (plenty of folks do their first draft longhand). The point is: write. And keep writing. Do not stop to refine and revise, and edit. Get the full story out before you go back over it.
Someone somewhere said you can’t edit words that aren’t written. So write first, edit later. Find a group of other writers to learn from and network with. Keep on writing. When you learn something new, you can go back and apply it to that complete story to make it better.
Schedule time to write, treat it like a part-time job. Get into the habit of writing even when inspiration hasn’t struck. Take some classes, discover if you are a plotter or a pantser. Commit to NaNo. Commit to yourself, but be realistic about it. If 50,000 words in a month are too much, can you do 30,000? Can you do 15,000?
If you want to be a writer, you have to write.
Well that wraps it up! Thank you again for doing this interview with me!
Thank you! These were great questions and a lot of fun to think about the answers.
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by R.J. Furness
Published by Union Publishing on March 16, 2019
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy
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Have you ever seen something you can’t explain? Did it vanish as fast as it appeared?
Perhaps that thing you saw was lurking in the shadows, and you caught a glimpse of it before it went back into hiding.
There’s a good chance, of course, that the thing you saw simply emerged from your imagination.
Or maybe, just maybe, it didn’t…
Sapphire Smyth is no stranger to rejection. When she was only a baby, her father abandoned her after her mother died. Since then, Sapphire has never felt like she belonged anywhere, or with anyone. To make things worse, Sapphire's foster carers have now turned their back on her - on her eighteenth birthday. After living with them throughout her childhood, Sapphire has to find a new home. Is it any wonder she finds it hard to trust people?
Abandoned by the people she called family, Sapphire is alone and searching for some meaning in her life. Except that meaning has already come looking for her. When Sapphire discovers mysterious creatures lurking in the shadows, she soon realises that her fate is unlike anything she had ever imagined.
"Sapphire Smyth & The Shadow Five" is a six-part, serialised young adult fantasy story!
Sapphire Smyth and the Shadow Five is part one in the Shadow series by author R.J. Furness. This young adult fantasy follows Sapphire who, on her eighteenth birthday, is asked to leave her foster home after being given a bracelet- something that had been previously owned by her birth mother. A series of mishaps on her birthday reveal curious mysteries lying just beyond the human eye, as well as a world only dreamt of in fantastical stories.
This was my first-time diving into a serialized series, and I have to say that I quite enjoyed it. The experience reminded me of watching an episode of my favorite, engaging shows on Hulu- except the episode played out in my imaginary internal screen. I already can’t wait to “tune in” to the next installment. As for the story itself-
Despite the short length (once again, this is a serialized series), the plot was incredibly engaging. I have always been a fan of whimsical, creative, and imaginative tales, and this story had it all! The beginning was dark and ominous- setting the stage perfectly for a mystery that immediately pulls you in. The somber tone of the story shifts and turns and reveals a much larger plot and, maybe, just a smidgen of a brighter, if not more involved, future. While I am still learning about Sapphire’s character, what I did find is that she has a lot of healing to do in regard to her upbringing. Growing up in a foster home and living with the knowledge that a parent of yours did not want you must have left scars, followed by being ejected from her childhood home…well, we’ll see Sapphire’s internal journey towards acceptance and peace (hopefully! I’m an eternal optimist). I can understand her trust issues with those closest to her- such as her best friend, Ben.
Ben was also an intriguing character in the short amount of time we got to know him- I can’t wait to learn more about him! He’s a dark and fascinating yo-yo carrying mystery! As for his sister Grace- I’ll have to reserve judgment until further novels. Finally, the mystical beings introduced in the story were fascinating and unique! I have to say, after finishing this story I immediately began looking around at the shadows, wondering if they really could move. Was I really seeing the shadows moving at the corner of my eye? Or was it just my imagination? (I love it when authors make you wonder!).
The story ended perfectly! I can’t wait to see where Sapphire’s journey takes her.
If you enjoy short, engaging, imaginative, action-filled, young adult fantasy stories, then you MUST check out this series by R.J. Furness! Just wait- I can see this one getting its own movie- if not its own T.V. series!!
Five Stars! Kiss of the Royal
by Lindsey Duga
on July 3, 2018
Genres: Young Adult Fiction, Romance, Fantasy
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Princess Ivy has one goal—end the war against the Forces of Darkness.
Ivy’s magic is more powerful than any other Royal’s, but she needs a battle partner who can help her harness it. Prince Zach’s unparalleled skill with a sword should make them an unstoppable pair—if only they could agree on...well, just about anything.
But Ivy’s magic can only fully unlock with Zach’s help, and he’s not exactly cooperating.
Zach believes Ivy’s magic is dangerous. Ivy believes they’ll never win the war without it. Two warriors, one goal, and the fate of their world on the line. But the more they argue, the more they fall for each other. And only one of them can be right...
Review of Kiss of the Royal
Kiss of the Royal is a YA fiction novel by author Lindsey Duga. The story follows Ivy- a seventeen-year-old girl with unparalleled magic that can be bestowed upon others in the form of a kiss. In this richly imaginative world filled with dark forces such as goblins, dwarves, dragons, witches, and wraiths, a society of noble princes and princesses known as the Royals are sworn to protect the three kingdoms from evil. Their sole purpose is to fight the forces of darkness and squander any rebellions from a group of people known as the Romantica- a group of heretics who believe in “true love”- a notion the Royals find fanciful and fictitious, as they believe in suppressing emotions and operating only with cool logic and clear reasoning.
These long-held believes are challenged when Ivy pairs up with an infamous Royal swordsman named Zach, her page and best friend Bromley, and a sassy and talented mage named Millenia, on a quest to defeat the latest threat to the kingdoms- a lethal dragon that is in the process of being hatched by the Evil Queen- the very one who introduced the Kingdoms to the dark forces and sparked the beginning of the magic kissed utilized as weapons by the Royals. This journey to save the world was fraught with nail-biting encounters with a number of imaginative and mystical creatures, enough plot twists to leave you dizzy with shock, and heart-melting romance.
Zach’s character was flippant, charming, and swoon-worthy. From the second he was introduced to Ivy I just knew he was going to be an instant favorite of mine. Zach had me laughing routinely throughout the story and I could never predict his actions- something that rarely occurs with me. His confidence, unwavering faith in love, and his desire to help those around him snagged my heart and shot him straight to the top of my mental book boyfriends list (I seriously need to get a second list going). Ivy’s character was also complex- she was noble, righteous, brave, and selfless. Having been raised by a mother devoid of warmth and love proved to be a challenge for Ivy during her interactions with others- which is probably the main reason she struggled to believe in the concept of love once it was revealed to her. It made it that much more interesting to watch the charged emotions and evident chemistry between Zach and Ivy.
The breathtaking romance, grand and harrowing adventure, imaginative world, and intricate plot made Kiss of the Royal an instant favorite of mine! Honestly, it truly is the must-read novel for those who love YA romance, dark fairy-tales, and fantasy novels!
FIVE stars for Kiss of the Royal!
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by Erin Bedford
Published by Embrace the Fantasy Publishing on October 24, 2017
Genres: Fiction, Fantasy, Dystopian
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They call them the Crimson Fold. High up in their castle they look down on my little world and wield a silent control. That is, until the invitations are sent out.
I never dreamed I’d be selected. They tell me it’s a privilege. I should be honored. But the fear in their eyes doesn’t lie.
If I refuse to go, my family will be shunned. If I go, my life and my body will no longer be mine. It’ll be theirs.
At midnight it will be over. At Midnight I’ll be his.
The Hunger Games meets Cinderella. This fairy tale has no happy endings only dark beginnings.
Until Midnight is the first novel in The Crimson Fold series by USA Today bestselling author Erin Bedford. This novel is a whimsical, dark retelling of a dystopian Cinderella. The story follows Clarabelle, a seventeen-year old girl whose father has recently married a widow with two daughters. This marriage uproots Clara and her father from the outer skirts of the kingdom known as The Glade- a place that grows and harvests food for the rest of the kingdom, leaving very little for those in the Glade- and brings them into the more lavish and gluttonous lifestyle of the Inner Circle. Clara is still trying to adjust to her new life when an invitation is left at her new home…with her name on it. Clara learns about an annual tradition in the Inner Circle where the eldest child of a household is invited to the palace- or the Core- to meet the Crimson Fold- an elite circle of people that never wander from the palace- and their ruler, Patrick Blordril.
Armed with very little knowledge of what occurs at the ball within the Core, and a great deal of resentment towards those who rule over their kingdom, Clara is thrust into a competition that could either 1. See that she serves out the rest of her life as a servant or companion, or 2. Send her home with her memory of her time at the Core erased and a permanent alteration of her mental state. Luckily, Clara’s “fairy godmother” arrives in the form of a rakish and charming Asher and his three sanguine and beautiful female companions. With Asher and his companions guiding Clara through the challenges of the Core festivities and tests, Clara finds herself dodging lethal, nefarious attacks from threatened competitors, uncovering secrets of the Crimson Fold, and realizing that the world she thought she knew may just be an illusion.
Clara’s character was well-developed, and she remained consistent with her feelings throughout the novel. I enjoyed her quirkiness and found myself chuckling at some of her mannerisms and responses to the tests within the story (she’s as terrible in heels as I am!). I would have liked, however, to learn more about Clara’s relationship with her father, especially with him having raised her after her mother’s death, and her earlier need to discuss the invitation with him. The story provided enough villainous characters, potential friends, and a love-interest to keep me satisfied.
Speaking of love-interests…Now, I am a HUGE fan of romance. As such, it always makes my heart sigh in contentment when a burgeoning love is introduced. I can definitely detect a bit of something brewing between Patrick and Clara- which makes me exceedingly pleased. However, their interactions were quite limited in the story, so I am not entirely convinced that they will have a happily ever after. I remain optimistic! And I look forward to delving more into their relationship in the next novel.
Until Midnight was a fantastical and whimsical story that overflowed with intriguing characters, a heart-pounding plot, and enough surprises to leave me desperate to get my hands on the second novel.
Four stars for Until Midnight! Pestilence
by Laura Thalassa
Published by CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform on March 21, 2018
Genres: Romance, Science Fiction, Fantasy
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They came to earth-Pestilence, War, Famine, Death-four horsemen riding their screaming steeds, racing to the corners of the world. Four horsemen with the power to destroy all of humanity. They came to earth, and they came to end us all. When Pestilence comes for Sara Burn's town, one thing is certain: everyone she knows and loves is marked for death. Unless, of course, the angelic-looking horseman is stopped, which is exactly what Sara has in mind when she shoots the unholy beast off his steed. Too bad no one told her Pestilence can't be killed. Now the horseman, very much alive and very pissed off, has taken her prisoner, and he's eager to make her suffer. Only, the longer she's with him, the more uncertain she is about his true feelings towards her ... and hers towards him. And now, well, Sara might still be able to save the world, but in order to do so, she'll have to sacrifice her heart in the process.
Review of Pestilence
Pestilence is the first novel in the Four Horsemen series by Laura Thalassa. The story follows Sara Burn, a young woman who literally draws the “short straw” and must stay behind when her town evacuates due to the impending arrival of the horseman known as Pestilence. Every town and city that Pestilence has ridden through has resulted in a mass number of people perishing from the pervasive and deadly disease- the plague. Sara’s main task is to shoot and kill Pestilence as he enters her hometown- a task she both dreads and anticipates as she believes it is her parents’ only chance for survival.
Naturally, her plan goes awry, and Pestilence not only doesn’t die (despite the horrific way she ended him and his horse), but he kidnaps Sara in revenge and keeps her as his reluctant prisoner. What follows is a haunting adventure plagued (pun intended) with disease, heartache, betrayal, hope, redemption, and love.
There was a surprising amount of cruelty involved in this story. I will admit to being shocked by the actions of Sara when she attempted to kill Pestilence (though I understood her motivation). I couldn’t blame Pestilence for his anger at being attacked in such a way (and it made me cringe a bit when he even implored her for mercy). However, Pestilence more than receives his revenge by his brutal handling of Sara (being dragged by a horse, starved, shot with an arrow, and forced to watch others die slowly from the plague)- honestly, I half wondered if it was even possible for both characters to look past such events, forgive one another, and even fall in love.
While I understood why Sara felt the need to end Pestilence (he was causing widespread disease which was killing off thousands of people), it took me a bit to understand Pestilence. As the story progressed, I began to understand his character a bit more. Pestilence’s actions are divinely perceived as orders from God because of humans’ destructive behavior. In his mind, he believes his actions just. In addition, he isn’t human…he’s lived thousands of years as a “higher being”, so he does not truly understand human love, compassion, and all the emotions and actions that make people truly “great”. While Pestilence began to see a more beautiful side to humanity- through Sara’s eyes and actions, his burgeoning feelings for her, and the compassion in a few of the humans they cross- Sara begins to see parts of humanity that are truly troubling.
One thing that did bother me was the fact that Sara did not think, prior to initially attacking Pestilence, that someone had not thought to do so before. In fact, she didn’t dwell on this possibility until halfway through the novel.
Amid all the conflict, heartache, and turmoil, Pestilence and Sara begin to develop a stronger understanding of one another, and through that, feelings begin to develop into something pure and beautiful.
Pestilence was a deep, thought-provoking, passionate story about two people with vastly different points of view who find ways to overcome adversity and misunderstandings to not only save the world, but find love in the process.
Four stars for Pestilence!